Monday, June 11, 2012

Sisterly Birthday Day

Wow, I am SO delayed (and limited) in my posting....

Better late than never....especially when it comes to a post about my sister's birthday! We had a GREAT day (I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it as much as she did), so I wanted to make sure to write it down to be properly remembered!

Beav wanted to spend her birthday with her sisters (literal and figurative) doing some of her favorite things in Rochester. I was so happy with this decision - it had been a LONG time since I had been down there, and I love getting to see more of her community.

We started off at Perkins for her favorite omelets and then went to the mall.....for what, I can't remember, but we all bought something.....even though I left my wallet in the car specifically so that I couldn't buy anything....FAIL. Then we went over to meet a new friend of Beav's - who is 91! She was the bride in the first wedding that Grandpa officiated. Beav got connected to her through Grandpa and now they hang out. This woman is GREAT, and I was so blessed that I got to meet her and hear stories about my grandparents when they were in their twenties. I can't wait to see her again and play games with her. After that, we went to get pedicures at the GREATEST NAIL SALON EVER. Seriously. I'm considering the drive to Rochester just to get a pedicure there right now. Loved it. Then we watched Hairspray and got ready for dinner. We went to an amazing little restaurant with the absolute best food!! The greatest drinks and the greatest desserts EVER! Again...considering the drive there just to eat! It was a really fun day of doing things that are Beav's favorites that were new to me. What a good birthday!

I also got to give Beav her present that I had been working on. I really love giving gifts and finding just the perfect thing, but I do get a little bit apprehensive when it is something that they totally have never asked for or indicated they wanted....especially when it is homemade! But this project was so fun to work on.....I combined a few things that I saw on Pinterest and scoured the internet for just the right touches to match Beav's personality. I had to enlist a little help from Dad on the woodwork, and some insight from Mom and Ang on the design, but I think it turned out great! Beav liked it, too! YAY! (don't know how clear the picture will is nails with string in the shape of MN with a heart in the center of the state (where we grew up)....the lyrics on the bottom are from American Honey by Lady A "she grew up on the side of the road/where the church bells ring and strong love grows/she grew up good/she grew up slow/like American Honey")

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cochabamba. Not a Cartoon.

I’ve been home from Bolivia for 50 days. 50 DAYS! Crazy how time flies by….and it’s about time I write a little trip recap.

(The title of the post comes from the woman who checked me in at the airport - she looked at my final destination and said, "Cochabamba?! That sounds like a cartoon!")

When Bex first said that she was going to Bolivia, I knew right away that I wanted to visit her. I told her as much, and we both started to get excited about the possibility of me actually visiting. There were moments during the year that I thought the trip wouldn't happen due to tight finances, my work schedule, etc, but I am THRILLED with how the Lord worked those things out. A few things motivated me to visit Bex:
  1. I MISS HER!
  2. I LOVE visiting places where people I know are living (or have lived). You get the best insider-tours, the best food, and the most “homey” visit. I loved that about my trip to Lithuania (and other places in the US), and I’m anxious to continue to travel to see friends in their new homes around the world.
  3. I firmly believe in supporting missionaries – financially, but also emotionally. Though I’ve never been a missionary, I can guarantee it has difficult moments. I grew up in a church and home that placed a high priority on supporting missionaries, and I continue to place a high priority on it. My sister wrote a letter (before a recent trip to Asia to see a friend) that sums up (better than I can) why she believes visiting missionaries is important: "We believe that the support of Christian workers serving abroad is a worthy and needful endeavor. We are pursuing this trip in response to John’s encouragement to Gaius to send the brothers (traveling Christian workers) in a manner worthy of God. Here is the full passage: "Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out of the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we (me) ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth." 3 John 1:5-8" I want to be a fellow worker for the truth with Bex through prayer, encouragement, and speaking the truth over her. I'm in a stage of life which allows me to encourage her in person. And I don't pretend to be the first person on Bex's list of "people to see from the states", but I think that any familiar face and touch of home would be an encouragement....I just didn't want to be too big of a burden!
Anyway, the details of the trip fell nicely into place for me to visit during a break from her teaching, and Bex is one TERRIFIC host - sending me many emails beforehand about what to expect for weather, what to pack, ideas of what we would be doing, etc. Needless to say, I WAS EXCITED!!

Highlights of my trip included:
  1. Being with Bex  – talking, laughing (mostly at my Spanglish), sharing struggles and encouragements, being goofy, catching up on the lives we've been living on different continents, and relaxing (she has a grueling schedule at school – in addition to learning and speaking a different language – it is EXHASUTING – and since I was visiting her during her spring break, I definitely anticipated wanting to have some dedicated rest time with her).
  2. Seeing Bex use her gifts – she has clearly been called to serve in Bolivia! The Lord has specific tasks that He prepared for her this year and it was a blessing to hear about it and see it first-hand. I was able to visit the school where she teaches and see her classes, as well as watch her pull off a talent show event for easily over 300 guests……it was awesome! Bex has been gifted to organize, draw people together, and direct. I was very, very blessed to see her in action and know that she is exactly where the Lord wants her to be. Seeing her in that environment made it easy for me to picture the busy schedule she's had over the last weeks with directing the school musical and putting on the I said, she is using her gifts, and her gifts are needed!
  3. Seeing Bex in her new home – I loved doing the day-to-day things with Bex. Going grocery shopping, meeting her friends (she had Bolivian friends over for a game night – so much fun!....even though communicating with them was, um, interesting, since I don’t speak Spanish), and going to the market (where we kept running into people Bex knows – so awesome to see that this really is Bex’s new home and community!). Even boiling drinking water and cooking/baking without typical ingredients in the high altitude was great – I loved seeing how Bex has adjusted to her new living conditions and life in the Andes.
  4. Being touristy – We visited the Concha (South America’s largest open-air market), shopped for knick-knacks, sang karokee, had a picnic at a park, used lots of public transportation as well as walked for miles, ate traditional Bolivian food (saltenas), visited cute restaurants (Café Paris, the “horse” restaurant, etc), toured an active convent, and much more!
  5. Easter – I think Easter Sunday was my favorite day in Cochabamba. The city held a service at the soccer stadium with all of the evangelical churches. Even though I don’t know Spanish, the songs were familiar and I knew the words in English. At one point, they were singing a song in Quechuan (the language of an indigenous ethnic group in Bolivia), much of the crowd was singing along in Spanish, and I was singing in English! It felt like a little taste of Heaven to be praising the Father with many nations on the day when we remember Christ's sacrifice for us all. After church we went home to take a nap and then had a very yummy lunch and great conversation with Ami, Bex’s neighbor. Then we went to the Cristo de la Concordia (the largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world). There was some amazing people watching at the Cristo (….is what I imagine everyone who observed the three of us was thinking), but mostly I loved looking out over the city that I was beginning to love with a dear friend and her new friend. It was an excellent near-ending to my trip.
So, as you can see, it was quite the trip……and I haven’t even mentioned being stuck in Bolivia due to airline craziness!! Not the way I wanted to end my trip, but even a few days of unknown return itinerary couldn’t ruin the amazing time I had learning about Cochabamba and spending days with Bex. It felt like only a week had gone by since I had seen her last, even though it had been months and months. I’m thankful for our friendship – that we can pick up where we left off, that we can be honest with each other, and that we can encourage each other in our faith. What a blessing to have had the opportunity to fall in love with Cochabamba! Many thanks to Bex for hosting me!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Traveling Mercies

(I'm writing this from my iPhone in the Miami I have no idea how the formatting will turn out, but this is a great way for me to kill some time!)

It is very appropriate that I am writing this post from an airport, because that is where I have spent much of my time in the last month! In fact, in 40 days, I have only slept at home 10 nights (well, that includes the trip I am leaving for now). SO....what have I been up to...?...

It started with a 'retreat' with my new small group women. 6 of us spent the night out of the city getting to know each other better, eating good food, telling stories, pampering each other (pedicures and massages!), and relaxing. I'm very thankful for a group that has immediately included me and so warmly welcomed me.

Then I headed to Dallas for work. Work has been nothing short of extremely stressful, and my body started to tell me that by breaking out in about 100 boils on my legs. I am much better now, thanks to a very competent dermatologist, but the process of figuring out what was wrong was no fun. Maybe more on that in another post...

Anyway, I went straight from Dallas to Indianapolis to meet up with my sister for the Big Ten Basketball Tournament. It. Was. A. Blast!! I was SO happy that the Gophers won their first round game, otherwise I wouldn't have seen them play at all. But even if they hadn't won, it was totally worth it to see tons of fun games, see all the different student sections and bands, eat great food, and enjoy downtown Indy. So glad we went!

The next weekend I went to Yuma to meet up with the rest of my family and visit Grandpa. Time with him is very special, especially to be there just after he turned 93! A few of my aunts were there, as well as some other friends from Long Prairie, and it was a great few days of trying to de-stress, playing cards, and watching a bunch of basketball!

The next week I spent some time out of town for work and then headed to Camp for quilt retreat. The weather was AMAZING (we saw a water skier on March 24!) and the company was just as good. I was so productive, but also had a ton of time for really nice conversations with great girls.

I worked away from home again the next week and then headed to the cities for the weekend. I really was feeling drained from my travels and I was REALLY missing my much has been going on that I haven't had time to process with some of my good friends. The weekend in the cities was just what I needed - I went to dinner and a Ben Rector concert with my 'brothers' and their wives, spent the night with my former roommate and had a wonderful catch-up session with her and the puppy, went to a sweet baby shower, spent the night in downtown Minneapolis with Bethel girls, finally was back at church, had lunch with some favorites, stopped over to see a friend and her husband and daughter, went on a walk with my bestie from high school, got a hot stone massage, and ate lots of ice cream. Whew! Talk about packing it all in! It was much needed and I cried on the way home because I felt very blessed. And very tired.

And now I'm on my way to South America. I can't believe I'm actually going! A friend lives there and I'm so excited to see her and see what her life is like! There will most certainly be a post coming about this trip.

I titled this post Traveling Mercies because I definitely have experienced many mercies during all of this craziness. I've been safe and generally healthy - and even when I wasn't healthy (those stupid boils), I felt that I could understand some things the Lord was teaching me (the need to lessen my stress at work, to slow down and take care of myself, etc). I've been blessed with a bonus that made my traveling possible, and I've connected with many people along the way who have encouraged me and blessed me during our conversations. Right now I'm longing to stay put at home for many, many days in a row....but that's not going to happen anytime soon! Even so, I'm grateful for a season of life with so much flexibility to have so many wonderful experiences.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Loving the Life I Didn't Expect

Is there a better day to write a blog about being single than on Valentine's Day?? I think not.

The truth is that a version of this post (and what could be MANY posts) has been floating around in my mind for a LONG TIME. And I decided that if I don't start actually blogging about all my thoughts, they will escape my head never to return again. So, here we go.

Though the outline of this post started to solidify a few months ago, my trip to Hawaii really helped it all come together - mostly due to a book I read. More on that later.

I am currently dealing with a coin called REALITY. Here are the two sides:

Side A: Ten girls are friends in college. Statistics say that ten years from now at least one of them will not be married (I'm not going to look up these statistics, but any breathing person with a brain knows a version of this statistic is true). Fast forward ten years. I have become the girl in the group that didn't get married.

Side B: God isn't bound by odds. Just because I'm not married yet doesn't mean I will never be. "Statistics" don't matter much to the Creator of the Universe - He kinda does whatever He wants.

But the scale is tipping more toward the side where I won't be married. And even though marriage is what I really, really want......I have to trust - and KNOW - that if I don't get married, that is/was God's best plan for my life.

Huh. Not being married is God's best plan for my life. Weird.

That's the thought that I've been coming to terms with over the last few months. Until recently, I've never even entertained the thought that I wouldn't get was just a matter of when. But now that thought is becoming more real. Up to this point in my life, God's best plan IS that I am NOT married. And I haven't always believed that the life I'm living is His best. I have thought my plan was better. I still think that my plan is better. So, in an effort to trust Him more, I've started to dwell on the truth that God's best plan for my life is that I am not married now......and may never be.

That thought makes me want to PUKE, to be honest. BUT it also forces me to look closely at all the blessings I've experienced BECAUSE of my singleness and the unique ways He has gifted me to serve ONLY in my singleness.

Okay, people. That was only the preface to this post. Things could get wordy here.......

I go back and forth on "accepting" that I may never be married. Some days I feel great about it and think of all the amazing ways I could use my single life to live for God. Other days I just want to lay in bed and dream about how wonderful it would be to be married.

One blessing of my single life is travel. I was gearing up for another fun trip to Hawaii with my sisters and I needed to download a free book to my Kindle. I keep a list of books I want to read, so I started plugging in the titles to see what I could download. Of the 30 titles I entered, only ONE of them was available: Revelations of A Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect by Connally Gilliam. SERIOUSLY?!?! I just wanted a good beach-read. I wanted to put my thoughts and convictions about being single on the shelf for a week of VACATION and do whatever I WANTED! But God decided He needed to drive home a few points about singleness to me. So, because I'm cheap and didn't want to waste a free download, I let out a deep sigh and got the book.

It's the only book I read during the entire week of vacation (up until the flight home). I usually fly through eight or nine books, but this one had me reading slowly, thinking, digesting, and re-reading many parts. I was challenged and blessed by it. So many things she wrote resonated with me and put into words what I sometimes have a hard time expressing. In case you are interested, here are some parts that stood out to me:

“For her, however, [my singleness] was a small reminder that, contrary to what she was always tempted to believe, unmet desires are not necessarily divine punishment for a flaw. Sometimes, when we line it all up, life simply is not fair. More important, my friend continued, my unintended singleness made me more approachable, more human. As she experienced it, my disappointment was a chink in the armor of my personality that let more of my heart out and gave others something softer to grab on to.......I still think I could come up with roughly 153 alternative means for accomplishing this same heart-changing end......I knew, and still know, that she was right. My unintended singleness, in addition to giving me some humorous stories that help me entertain or bond with a willing audience, undeniably has changed the contours of my heart. In bringing me into all-too-tender touch with my inner (and outer) dork, for lack of a better term, I’ve grown kinder, and I’m glad for the change........“The question, of course, is how will you suffer? Will you suffer with bitterness or will you suffer prophetically?” O Lord, I don’t like how this sounds. “You see, your generation is experiencing the fallout of a culture profoundly confused about who God is and therefore about what it is to be human and what it is to love. Your relational disappointments and suffering are, sadly, emblematic of the age.”......It is worth considering this question of How then should I live? I’m not talking about asking How then shall I get a man? or How then should I explain my singleness? or even How then should I prepare for life alone? Those questions have some merit, but they are secondary. Rather, I’m talking about asking for your eyes to be opened to see what’s real and then learning how to move forward in reality, even if it’s wading one step at a time through periodic waves of tears.......For today I am called to be single. I cannot say about tomorrow. That is how I want to live: not anxiously asking why but simply looking for what is supposed to be for today........Sometimes I think that one of the primary works God has done in my life is to tenderize and enrich my heart through the “Why aren’t I married?” struggle - the suffering I still hesitate to call by that name for fear of others rolling their eyes. But instead of the disappointment leaving me a cold, bitter, angry wench or a hotly desperate man-eater, it’s wrought a heart more capable of and committed to giving and receiving love. That, in my estimation, is miracle-level material. And though anything might happen tomorrow, that is the work of God I’ve seen today.”

[Side note: I like how she uses the phrase "unintended singleness". I had never heard that before.] I do feel that extended singleness has made me more empathetic to other people's struggles that I might not have understood if I wasn't in the midst of a "struggle" that has eye-rolling potential. Does that make sense? My heart has changed, for the better, because I'm single.

These next thoughts came after a section in the book where she talked about fragmentation: that being single is being free of any formal ties that bind and leaves us with too many options and too many sets of friends that continue to marry or move, leaving us with the need of making, yet again, more start the cycle over again. The comparison is that you are trying to quench your relational thirst by drinking out of a thousand Dixie cups when all you want is a deep well. You won't die of dehydration, but you just really want a constant well - someone to live all of life with, not just little sections here and there. She talked a lot about how sometimes your personality can even feel fragmented, and I can relate to that well (which is definitely not unique to single women). Interests in sports, quilting, baking, and half-marathons don't exactly fit together perfectly, but they are all 100% "me". So I find myself bouncing around from friend to friend, interest to interest, Dixie cup to Dixie cup...

[In response to the story of the Prodigal Son]: “It’s the Father. It’s the Father. It’s the Father. As I reflected on that story, I slowly began to realize, It’s the Father, stupid. And then it dawned on me - the Father knows that I’m part urban ministry worker, part debutante, and part granola chick, and that a lot of those parts - plus others - don’t fit together. The Father knows that good friends move away. The Father knows that family-free living can leave one too free an agent. The Father knows that committed communities fracture. The Father knows that the people around me are spinning in their crazy circles too. The Father knows that I’m drinking out of too many Dixie cups. The Father knows. But more than just knowing, he cares. That’s the wild part. He has compassion. He’s the one who runs out with a profoundly welcoming heart. He’s the one who gently reminds me of his presence and generosity. It leaves me speechless. Or wanting to cry. Or maybe to sing.”

I love the phrase "too free an agent". Being single can definitely feel that way, BUT the Father knows! And it's true - it makes me want to cry. Or sing. Or both. When I feel that my friends are moving on to the "next stage" in their lives to something better and leaving me behind....He knows. When I feel that my friends are moving away to live a life of purpose and I'm stuck in what can feel very purpose-less.....He knows. And cares. And pursues. And blesses.

Well, those are plenty of thoughts for one night.

Also, as I was driving today, on Valentine's Day, I was thinking about how God has been kind to remind me of the many people in my life who love me, even if I don't have a "romantic" love. Just in the last few days I've had an acquaintance at church who went out of her way to compliment something she observed from me on Sunday. Another guy at church encouraged me (in a not-weird way) that I am "a catch". Friends who spent the weekend at our house are thinking of someone to set me up with. A friend from my old small group sent me a very encouraging email today with verses she's been praying for me. A friend who moved to another continent still makes me laugh like no one else can and prays for me. I prayed specifically for a single girl who had a career, owned a home, enjoyed sports, and had other interests in common with me to start coming to our church and God answered my prayer. My sisters and my parents are the BEST BEST BEST.......and I could go on and on.

I certainly am blessed in my singleness. This is a life I didn't expect, but I (am learning to) love it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hawaiian Highlights

I can't believe we have been back from Hawaii for over a week! Things are so BUSY when you get back from vacation. I definitely wanted to write a post about our trip before I start to forget some of my favorite things.

Our trip to Maui in 2009 was my favorite vacation ever, so I was really excited to go back and see some of my favorite things, as well as go on new adventures. This trip ended up being quite different from the last time we were on Maui - partly because we stayed quite a distance from where we had been before, and partly because we ended up just RELAXING more, instead of hiking, etc. Which was fine with me - even though I LOVED the hikes we went on last time, it was nice to lay low.

Here's a list of some highlights (in no particular order):
  1. Half Marathon. The second day we were there I ran a half marathon. I have a goal to do a half marathon in every state, so since there was a race going on while we were there, I thought I couldn't pass it up. Is a half marathon exactly what I want to be doing while on vacation? NO WAY. Am I glad I did it? YES! It was a beautiful run along the ocean while watching the whales play and the sun rise. It was well organized and I met some nice runners. The funniest moment was when I was stretching my calf against a speed limit sign and another runner yelled out to me "way to hold up that sign!"
  2. Hotel. We stayed at the Ritz Carleton which was AMAZING. The pools were immaculate, the staff was overly hospitable, the ocean was beautiful, the food was crazy good. We spent a lot of time by the pool - so much so that toward the end of our stay the pool staff gave us a free cabana (usually around $300/day) for a day - complete with a couch, flat screen TV, music, ceiling fans, etc. The timing couldn't have been better since I had a fever that day and couldn't really be out in the sun. An amazing blessing to enjoy the cabana!
  3. Food. Staying in a somewhat more touristy part of the island allowed us to try out many new restaurants....which were AWESOME! Personal favorites were Merimans ("chocolate purse dessert") and The Gazebo (can you say macadamia nut white chocolate chip pancakes with coconut syrup?!?!?!.......we went there twice!)
  4. Friends. My sister was at a conference, so there were quite a few people we knew at the resort. It was fun to run into people at the pool to chat. We also got to know some friends-of-friends, in one of those "small world" situations, which was super fun. Let alone the fact that our group of six that traveled together was the GREATEST - so many laughs. I did MUCH less reading on this trip than any vacation ever - mostly because I did so much talking around the pool with friends! (but also because the book I was reading took digesting - but that's another post)
  5. Zip Lining. In the west Maui mountains with a view of the ocean. Amazing. The longest zip line was 1100 feet!
All in all, it was a great, great, great vacation. It came at the perfect time when things were extremely stressful at work. What a blessing to have fun travel friends and to have the means and ability to see the world!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blessings and Sadness

I spent most of Sunday crying. (I swear I'll try to post some funny and not-so-weepy things here soon, sorry!) Our church has been growing and growing, which means that small groups need to grow and change, as well. I've been in the same small group for almost five years, so I've been sheltered from most of these changes, though I have been sad to see some friends move into different groups as our group became too large. BUT. Now I am the friend who is moving to a new group.

You see, mostly I haven't been moved because I've DUG MY NAILS into the sides of my small group leader's wife and refused to go anywhere else. She is AMAZING. She is humble and honest (two things I am not very good at) and has been an incredible mentor to me over the last five years. She is SO "steady", whereas I'm an emotional roller coaster. As soon as I knew that I was going to be moved, I was really sad, but also excited to get to know a new group of people. But then Sunday rolled around (our final small group meeting) and I was just sad, sad, sad. I started to realize how much I've taken for granted this wonderful mentor I've had and all that she has walked me through - difficult job situations, grieving over close friends moving away, confusing boy situations, moving to Wisconsin, tense relationships with friends....etc, etc, etc. She has wisdom and sound advice in every area and I will so miss turning to her for things like this (not that I never will, but now I have a new small group leader to turn to).

Another woman who is also moving to a different small group was also crying on Sunday and shared something along these lines: "It's really good that leaving this group is so hard. It means that we have been so blessed while we've been in this group. If it wasn't hard to leave, that would mean that we don't care." That really resonated with me. Not everyone has such great care and prayer from their church family. So even though it is very sad to leave such a wonderful group, it's only because I've been so blessed by it. AND it's not like I will never see these people again at church, it just won't be on such a consistent level.

SO. Even though I'm sad, I know it's because I've been so blessed.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolution-Less Year

I've never liked New Year's Eve. Not that I haven't had fun on New Year's Eve, but the older I get, the more I just want to stay tucked in on New Year's Eve (it just makes zero sense to me to get into a tiny dress in the freezing cold to go out on the roads with lots of drunks out and about - not my idea of fun). And this year, especially after surgery and being sick and generally being moody, I was especially not looking forward to the new year. I couldn't really even put my finger on it.......I just wasn't looking forward to 2012. I wasn't even in the mood to make any resolutions......which REALLY isn't like me. I typically love making plans and setting goals, but not this year. I guess I just felt a little bit like I don't have much to look forward to (which isn't actually true). I sometimes feel that nothing in my life is going to change, which feels so monotonous. Especially now that I'm settled in WI, I could very realistically not have any big changes for a LONG time. Like years. And when so many of my friends have so many changes all the time (weddings and babies, in particular) it is just....oy. Monotonous.

And then it was Sunday and it was the new year. I felt pretty indifferent about it. And then during the singing at church, one of my pastors shared something - I wish I could remember more of the specifics - but the gist of it was that he had been feeling overwhelmed and hopeless during the week. His wife had some encouragement for him that he shared (and I can't remember right now) and I just felt like everything he was saying really resonated with me. I've been feeling hopeless.......Still single and it didn't work out with a nice guy. Hopeless that I'll ever find someone. Seemingly always sick and dealing with chronic pain in my shoulder. Hopeless that I'll ever get better. Just kinda generally bored with things. And I so appreciated what he shared: that I have no reason to be hopeless because in Christ we have the greatest hope.

So I cried through the next two songs (It Is Well and Before the Throne) because I *do* have the greatest hope.

......whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well with my soul.....
......Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul......
......when Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end to all my sin.....

I was so thankful for the reminder that I have a personal Savior who does care about every detail of my life. That there really is nothing to despair about. That being single is NOT the end of the world. Sometimes I just need a kick in the butt to remind me that I have it pretty easy.

This is my "lot", like It Is Well says. Though it's not the lot I would have chosen to park in, here I sit. And God ordained it. And He cares about it. I think I'm actually sitting in one of the best-lit and most well-protected lots there is, but I have dreams of a lot where every car is a Lexus and they all have cheery children being perfectly well behaved sitting in their car seats, singing the praises of their beautiful (size 6) mother. That's the lot where I want to be. But my lot is perfectly fine, and I should enjoy it. And I know that I sometimes cry when I sing It Is Well because I feel remorse that I don't always say "whatever my lot, it is well". So, those songs were a wonderful reminder and a balm to my heart on Sunday.

Then later in the day I saw another great reminder on a friend's Facebook page: he said "In Christ, a new year doesn't equal a clean slate. Our slate is already clean. No Christ, no clean slate, regardless of new year's resolutions".

So, I'm thankful for a clean slate, whether or not it's a new year. My slate is clean, even though I know that I will feel the need to "have a clean slate" more than once or twice in the coming year. But I'm starting the year resolution-less, other than feeling resolved to appreciate all that I have been given and stop dreaming of the lot with all the beautiful Lexus drivers (as much).

....and Then Two More Months Went By....

Psych! You all thought I was actually going to start blogging after my post two months ago!

Why didn't I actually start blogging when I said I was going to (and wanted to)? I seriously have no idea. Well, I have *some* idea, but no real good reason*. I've been just kinda bummed the last two months for no real good reasons* at all, so I guess I didn't really want to start blogging while I was in that mood.

*here are the "no real good reasons": I stopped going on dates with a nice guy. We had a good time on the dates we did go on, but we just didn't click. And even though the feeling was mutual, it was a bummer. Just feels like I'm going to be single forever. And then I had a cyst (chilazion) removed from my eyelid, which actually made me more sick and annoyed than I ever thought it would. Took longer to "recover" and be back to feeling normal than I thought it would. And then I got a huge cold for 2-3 weeks. Right through Christmas. And I was so on track with my half marathon training until all of that, so I was annoyed when everything went off track. So basically I'm just selfish and when my plans don't turn out I get crabby and decide not to blog about it all because I don't like to be a bummer about such trivial things when other people have actual sad things going on that are much more important than all of that. Okay.

BUT. I will do one more mass-catch-up and then I will get down to actually blogging.

NOVEMBER:...Palindrome Day!!, Breaking Free breakfast, Quilt retreat, Gopher basketball games, Alice Hanson funeral, great time in LP for Thanksgiving, Craft show, went to see a bestie in White Christmas, and stopped going on dates with a nice guy

DECEMBER:...Pat's Tap with girlfriends, Nutcracker ballet with Eva to see a girl from church (SO great), EYE SURGERY (had a cyst removed), church Christmas party, family weekend in the cities (TOO much fun - Radison downtown, Hell's Kitchen breakfast, movies in bed, mom shopping, Dad and Ang to Gopher game, surprise dinner at The Melting Pot, McDonald's breakfast in bed thanks to Dad, surprising Dad with Les Mis, dinner with the sisters), cookie exchange, BE baby shower, JC 30th bday party, small group coffee, Christmas in LP, annual family game day in Atwater (complete with YARD games, thanks to no snow yet!!), Wild game on NYE, low key NYE dinner with friends.........NEW YEAR!

SO. Here we go. For real.

2011 by the Numbers

States Visited: 8 (CA, KS, MO, TX, FL, IL, PA, IA)

Countries Visited: technically 0, but went to a few US territories on our cruise

Weddings Attended: 0 (BOO! I LOVE weddings....can't believe I didn't go to a single one this year!)

Trips to the Cabin: 5 (pretty slim number, here. Gotta change that in 2012)

Triathlons: 0

5Ks: 1

Trips to Green Bay: 2

Football Games (in person): 3 professional, 1 college

Blog Posts: 9 (lame!)

Half Marathons: 1 (Chicago)

Funerals: 2 (dear family friends lost both Grandma and Grandpa this year)

Books Read: 20 (some of them were listened to)

Times Pulled Over: 1 (boo!)

Dates: 4

Resolutions Kept: 0

.....and a lot more babies born to friends, plus one big move to WI!